10,000 Steps in St. Helena
July 5, 2019
As far as Napa Valley cities are concerned, St. Helena is among the most walkable of them all.
Wide sidewalks line both sides of Main Street. Hidden footpaths lead to hidden businesses all around town. The Napa Valley Vine Trail is accessible from the south. There’s even plenty of open space to explore, especially in the north. Toss in world-class restaurants, high-end boutiques, a diverse sampling of tasting rooms, and other quirky attractions (Culinary Institute of America, anyone?), and St. Helena is a perfect place to help wellness-minded visitors to achieve their goal of 10,000 steps per day.
Here, then, in no particular order, are three itineraries designed to maximize mobility and minimize stress.
Over the years St. Helena has established itself as a hotspot for foodies—especially foodies who like to walk. If you fit this bill, start your day with lunch at Farmstead, the restaurant at Long Meadow Ranch, where much of the produce is picked from gardens just beyond the dine-in patio. Our advice: If they’re available, try the ribs. They’re hot and sweet and sticky and spicy all at once. From there, head up Main Street and stop at Woodhouse Chocolate, one of the most famous chocolatiers in the entire Valley. Everything at Woodhouse is delicious, but locals love the bark, which comes in eight to 10 different varieties, depending on the time of year.
After a cocktail at the swanky-but-intimate bar at The Acacia House, the restaurant inside Las Alcobas Napa Valley, wrap your day at the Culinary Institute of America, a veritable theme park for food. This facility is a working trade school, but visitors can sign up for cooking classes, shop for ingredients at Spice Islands Market, or make a reservation to eat in the (training) eatery, Gatehouse Restaurant. The budding chefs all are so amazing, you basically can’t go wrong. Just be sure to go hungry.
The best thing about retail therapy? The more you shop, the more you walk. This is great news for visitors to St. Helena, because a boutique crawl along Main Street will prompt you and your friends to log some serious step action. Stores such as Daisy Clothing Boutique, PEARL Wonderful Clothing are worth a gander, as is Fideaux, which sells nice stuff, but for pets. Another option: One of the guided walking tours offered by the St. Helena Historical Society. The curated Main Street Tour allows visitors to explore St. Helena’s commercial district, which is recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. The Side Street Tour of Spring Street gives visitors an in-depth glance into churches, social halls, a library, the post office and the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum.
Cap your stroll around town with a tromp to the southern edge of town and spend lunchtime on the patio at Gott’s Roadside, This restaurant is an uber-swanky version of fast food—think burgers, milkshakes, and fries—all paired nicely with local wine.
No visit to St. Helena would be complete without exploring the city’s parks, and you’ll be able to notch thousands of steps at each of them. If you’re exploring with the kids, start at 4-acre Jacob Meily Park, which boasts a community garden, a bridge over Sulphur Creek, and one of the best playgrounds in the city.
From there, head north to see history in action at Bale Grist Mill State Park. The centerpiece of the park is a fully restored grain mill built by Edward Turner Bale in 1846, and regularly scheduled live demonstrations at the mill provide background into the important role Napa Valley settlers played in the famous wine region’s industrialization. You can log 1,000 steps wandering around the mill itself, and can tack on can add 4,000 more by hiking the History Trail that passes along Mill Creek and ends at the first church in the Napa Valley and Pioneer Cemetery.
Wrap up park time with a tromp in Bothe Napa Valley State Park, an 1,900-acre open space preserve on the northern edge of town. The park has more than 10 miles of hiking trails that run from the valley floor up to the ridgeline, but a good day-hike is the 4-mile-long out-and-back Redwood Trail, which winds through towering stands of coastal redwoods and fern-lined Ritchey Canyon past some of the park’s historic sites. If you time your visit right, you might even be able to conclude your hike with a dip in the park’s pool.
Discover how to experience 10,000 steps in the other towns in the Napa Valley.